Thursday, 24 November 2016

President… Judiciary… and intellectuals

Many talk about some verdicts issued … and they don’t like them… while some see those verdicts are adequate… but sometimes, others cannot stand to sit still and so they write their opinions starting with the same introduction confirming “they respect judiciary verdicts because they represent the truth and they do not interfere in judiciary… but”… after “but”, you find the hell of interference based upon their very own opinions and points of view.

And so, many may expect the president to interfere… and if he didn’t, they would say that this is the trait of this era and regime; meaning silence toward exonerating those who were accused of heavy charges and later were acquitted or received less severe verdicts… and if he did interfere, others would ask: where is separation between authorities?… and say this is the trait of tyrant totalitarian regimes… etc.

In such regard, I’ve found a document I had had since the days of Socialist cadres’ organization… that was later published in many references… the document narrates the dialogue that took place between president Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Egyptian delegates who were sent abroad to study… the meeting took place in the central committee hall in the building of the Socialist Union –later was used by the National Democratic Party (NDP) and got burnt in January, 2011 – on May 16, 1970.

Leader Nasser was asked a complex question about circumstances of scientific research in Egypt and ongoing conflicts in that field… then about the new class formed in the country and which earns money illegally… the one who asked also required those depraved corrupt be dealt with more decisively and also called for the established laws to be amended to address such decisiveness.

The president gave a full answer about the two issues, declaring what was going on in the matter of scientific research and gave an example for this by narrating a disputed matter between the ministry of agriculture and that of scientific research… he also addressed the issue of the new class and corruption… and here, I literally excerpt part of what he said: “… you talk to me and say there are people who make money by illegal means… but there are laws in this regard… what is the illegal means?... you mean bribe, right?... this is the illegal way… to me, anyone that is accused of bribery, gets arrested and fired… but afterwards, he files a suit and gets exonerated… what should I do now?... I have to release and reappoint him once again or I’d be unjust to the man… how can I judge the man?... how can I be the judge of this nation?... I can’t be a president and a judge in the same time… I can never be all those in the same time… we have laws here… that who is accused of bribery is sentenced to life sentence… actually, we tailored very tough laws… but I can’t rule the country and be the judge in the same time… in the beginning, they are referred to prosecution and get jailed for four days… after that, they are impended for another period of time… and then, they are let free until the case is disputed before judiciary… but I said no… they shall be arrested and fired… and here, I have to say that judiciary is actually the last resort… and if I interfere and issue verdicts, I will not do so unless I’m hundred percent convinced those people are guilty… and here again, I cannot be hundred percent convinced except in very simple or very few cases… they say some receive bribes in the customs… and that when you bring cars from abroad when you come back, they make it easier for you for a hundred or even fifty pounds… otherwise, they won’t let your cars in… this what you and I, as well, hear… but what shall I do?... the investigation and intelligence departments are working and they know all this… but I know this just like you do… actually, I believe we now need to regulate these by-laws… because those complicated by-laws are the reason behind all this… the one who is asked to pay a bribe is the one who should inform the authorities about such act… those are the cases when we are able to charge the corrupt and penalty them prison sentences”.

President Nasser continued on talking about decisiveness in dealing with corruption and said: “…actually, I have to be fully convinced that someone is really corrupt… for example, when I heard about export and import operations and those who pay money for commercial representatives of other countries to give them products instead of buying from the public sector… I arrested and charged them… but later, they were acquitted… because there was no evidence… as to me, I asked for those people not to be enlisted in the exporters’ list… but what are the measures that are more decisive?... It’s not that simple… otherwise, I’d have taken every letter sent to me from anyone against anyone else into consideration… if anyone writes to me saying that X is corrupt, I refer the matter to Shaarawi Gomaa or Amin Howeidi and tell them to authenticate the veracity of these accusations… if I am hundred percent sure of those information, I yield to the administrative measure but I cannot jail them… I can fire them… but as to jailing, I do never want any authority other than the judiciary to be in charge of such matters… otherwise, a huge disorder will occur”.

The president went on illustrating the necessity of scrutiny to know the truth and said: “… you tell me there are people who get rich by illegal means… everyone tells me this… who are those people?... do you know them by name?... tell me about them… even if you told me, I won’t take your word for granted because every coin has two faces… you are one… but I shall seek the defense of the other party you are accusing… we have to make investigations… I receive endless mails… I cannot be emotional about the complaints I receive… if I got emotional about everything and started to take measures, I would ruin everything in four days… not more than this… I have to make sure these information are true… but sometimes, I feel angry… if so, I wait for about four days to calm down and then I reconsider the matter again when I’m relaxed so that I don’t take an action that I may regret later”.

I wrote the excerpt in its slang language it was written in, in the register of president Nasser’s session with the delegates in May, 1970… meaning 46 years ago… because the catastrophe we are witnessing these days is that we – especially those who consider themselves crème de la crème of the society; intellectuals, media people, journalists, university professors or others – are reproducing the same problems and disputed matters again.

As an incident may happen and then it gets referred to investigation and judiciary… and a verdict – that can be appealed or referred to the court of cassation – is issued… then everyone start talking about the necessity of the president interference… because if he doesn’t interfere, then this means the whole regime is fascist and despotic… to the rest of description list.

Moreover, I believe many do not mind mixing between authorities’ responsibilities if it has to do with their own business… and they don’t mind the president pays no attention to separation between authorities in such case… but if it was about others’ business and the president interfered, they would immediately say: this is despotism and autocracy exercised by the executive authority.

It’s a catastrophe by all means… a catastrophe of those elite intellectuals who know nothing about the necessity of building the nation upon agreed-by-all standards.

Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar

This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on November 24, 2016.

To see the original article, go to:

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